Coonelly, Fans Upset With Blown Call Against Braves

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A 19-inning game came down to just one play in Atlanta.

The Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Braves were waging a hard-fought battle, but the players’ efforts were overshadowed by a blown call at home plate.

With the score tied 3-3, Julio Lugo walked with one out in the bottom of the 19th inning.  Jordan Schafer followed with a single that advanced Lugo to third base.

The stage was set for the play fans of both clubs won’t soon forget.

Scott Proctor stepped up to the plate and chopped a grounder to third baseman Pedro Alvarez, who came home with the throw.

The throw beat Lugo to the plate by several feet and Michael McKenry appeared to tag him prior to crossing the plate.

Yet, umpire Jerry Meals saw no tag applied and ruled Lugo safe, which ended a nearly seven-hour game.

The play drummed up memories of Atlanta’s Sid Bream sliding into home in the 1992 NLCS.

This latest play was fresh on the minds of many fans in downtown Pittsburgh Wednesday morning.

“Very disheartening after a long game like that. Brutal,” one man said. “We need replay in baseball now? I don’t know.”

“I thought that was terrible and I believe he was tired and wanted that game to end. That was rotten,” a woman said.

“It was a rip-off. The guy was clearly out,” another upset fan said.

However, fans aren’t the only ones upset with the call. Pirates President Frank Coonelly issued a statement Wednesday:

The Pittsburgh Pirates organization is extremely disappointed by the way its 19-inning game against the Atlanta Braves ended earlier this morning. The game of baseball and this game in particular, filled with superlative performances by players on both clubs, deserved much better. We have filed a formal complaint with the Commissioner.

While we cannot begin to understand how Umpire Jerry Meals did not see the tag made by Michael McKenry three feet in front of home plate, we do not question the integrity of Mr. Meals. Instead, we know that Mr. Meals’ intention was to get the call right. Jerry Meals has been umpiring Major League games for 14 years and has always done so with integrity and professionalism. He got this one wrong.

For Pirates fans, we may have lost a game in the standings as a result of a missed call but this game, and the gutsy performances by so many of our players, will make us stronger, more unified and more determined as we continue the battle for the National League Central Division.

The play was also a hot topic of discussion on talk radio around town on Wednesday.

Pirates analyst Bob Walk called in to the Vinnie and Cook show on 93-7 The Fan to give his thoughts about the play.

“It was a tremendous game, incredible to watch. For it to end like that just had everybody from the Braves people in the press box to us, everybody, their jaws were just hanging open,” Walk said.

Walk is convinced that McKenry made the tag and that Meals made a bad call.

“All morning I’ve been thinking about that play and I just don’t get it. For [Meals] to make that call, you have to see six inches of daylight, I mean, I’m sorry to make that call. If it’s going to be missed, it’s going to be missed the other way where there was a phantom tag and you call the guy out. I mean, that’s the kind of thing you halfway expect in that situation because you don’t want to end it by saying something happened that you didn’t see,” Walk said.

Listen to the full interview here:

“Obviously, because there was no daylight, if he missed him you couldn’t get three sheets of notebook paper in between his glove and his leg. If he missed him, there’s no way in the world he ever saw daylight. I don’t know what he did, if he guessed, I don’t know. Again, it was just a horrible ending to really, an epic game.”

The loss, combined with wins by St. Louis and Milwaukee, dropped the Pirates to third in the NL Central.

For now, the Pirates and their fans will have to look ahead to getting back in the win column tonight when they take on the Braves again at 7:10 p.m.


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  • Terri M

    He was clearly OUT!
    I saw Sid Bream a few months ago in Cranberry and the thought of him sliding in to home plate for the Braves in 92 is STILL fresh in my memory~

  • BucGuy

    My problem with the 1992 game was the way the umpire appeared to be gaming the Pirates and Stan Belinda in the bottom of the ninth. I believe the regular home plate umpire was sick and replaced that half inning. Even with the Jose Lind error to start the inning, the Pirates almost made their way out of it. It seemed that pitch after pitch that looked like obvious strikes (even to a biased Pirate fan) were being called balls. This forced Belinda to come even more ture with hitable pitches over the plate. Hey, they still might of lost, but I thought the were “gamed” for the home team Braves. Of course Bream did beat Bond’s throw, which I don’t think was nearly as bad as it is often described. Also, I remember the 1972 Bob Moose wild pitch in the bottom of the 9th with 2 outs. Actually, thinking about both of these right now is make me sick. lol
    Anyway, last night’s call certainly looked wrong, but better win tonight.

  • moe

    Unbelievable an ump could miss that call.I think I could umpire better than some of these guys doing the job now. No one in this world will convince me Lugo was safe.

  • baseball joe

    As a guy who played college baseball and who has coached high school for 15 years don’t give Meals the benefit of the doubt. This was purely a makeup call. He tossed McClouth and Gonzales for nothing. They barely complained and he wouldn’t let them at least plead their case. He was calling him safe no matter what!

    • Umpidy Dog

      Ha ha ha ha ha…what a joke of a coach you must be! I’ve been an umpire on the high school level and have done hundreds of games. Never did I ever do a “make-up” call. And never did anybody I umped with say they did a make-up call. I’ve had a few “loser” coaches, like yourself accuse me or a partner of “make-up” calls when their teams were getting their a$$es kicked, but I’ve always called them as I seen them. You, and the rest of the yo-yo’s posting on here fail to remember that an umpire has a split second to see the catch, tag, and foot touching the plate. It’s the human element of the game. Nobody, including yourself, is perfect. We do not have the instant replay that all of you get to look at after in slow motion.

      • Kurt

        Why is it that “the human element” always results in a bad thing for the game of baseball?

        Guess what, purists. Baseball’s grande tradition of being the National Pastime died long ago with the rise of the NFL, and the Steroid Era [urinated] on the grave. It’s time for instant replay – long past, actually – before “the human element” spoils another fine summer evening.

  • M1A

    one of the most exciting games I have ever watched, next to Game 7 of the
    ’60 World Series, and to have it end in that fashion is very disturbing. I watched
    the whole game and for 6 hours and 29 minutes. This umpire was ridiculed on
    ball and stike calls by both benches and the fans for most of the game. I have a
    very biased opinion that Meals was very tired, and so were the players on each
    bench,but, made that call just to get off the field. Sad, but I believe that’s what
    it comes down to. Time for INSTANT REPLAY !!

  • Sid Bream

    Wow, sore losers! Let me say this: Good teams find ways to win, bad teams find excuses for losing. Don’t put yourself in a situation where an ump’s call decides the game. Start hitting the ball for God’s sake!!! The Pirates are one of the worst hitting teams in playoff contention. My prediction: They will end up finishing close to .500 and about 8-10 games out of first in a VERY, VERY WEAK DIVISION. The Pirates pitching has overachieved this year while the hitting consistently remains underachieving. Next year, when the pitching drops back to where it should be, Pittsburgh will be 15-20 games under .500 and out of the pennant race by Memorial Day. Those are the cold hard facts.

    • Jim Leyland

      Sid, shuldn’t you just close your mouth and be happy with the fact that you made one lucdy slide 20 years ago? I notice your not in the Hall of Fame.

      • Jim Leyland

        Sorry, I meant to say lucky slide. By the way, are you still an umemployed bum? lol

    • Anonymous

      The writer pretending to be Sid Bream misses the mark. While his cynical and pessimistic outlook on the Bucs (I know the real Sid Bream did not write it) may prove to be correct, the fact is that no one is looking for excuses. Even the best team can get burned by bad calls. And this is a very bad call that should be obvious to even the most devoted Braves fan.

      • Fransisco Cabrera

        If theyhad hit the ball and scored a few more runs, the game would have never went 19 innings. You people are getting bent out of shape over 1 game in a 160+ game season. Nuts – all of you!

  • Whitey Herzog

    Imagine how Cardinals fans feel. Their horribly blown call came in a world series game. Relax Bucco fans, lots of baseball left.

  • Bud Selig


  • Amy Kinneer

    we all know them ump is old, but is he blind too! if he was that tired, he needed to call in a relief ump.

  • pele

    I guarantee you that if this was the Yankees, Phillies, Red Sox or other large market teams this would of never happened. The Pirates and other similar teams will never get the respect of the league or the umpires. This call last night only strengthens what I been saying since 1994 that MLB does not care about any team other the ones I stated above. It all comes down to money.

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  • Hank Harmon

    Fire the umpire. He gets paid far more money than most Americans, NOT to make bad calls. Fire him and hire someone who will do a better job.

  • Anonymous

    Why can’t something be done about this umpire that made the wrong call. When there was a dispute earlier in the year regarding a hit McCutchen had in a game that extended his hitting streak. There was a group of so called experts in New York that said his hit was an error and they said the hitting streak stopped then. So why can’t there be something done about this call. I think this ump should be suspended without pay for 10 games or so, since nothing else is going to be done. What good is an apology from the league going to be if the Pirates somehow end up missing the playoffs by one game.

  • Alfredo

    Don’t worry, they ain’t missing the playoffs by 1 game. WIth the hitting attack (or lack of it) they have, they’ll miss out by 8 games or more when it’s all over.

  • Tip O'Neill

    Does Pittsburgh have the worst weathermen/women. They just can;t get it right. Too bad KDKA doesn’t have a generic comment section on here. They don’t want their own criticized. Got to vent somewhere so here it is. I think they look out the window and whatever they see is our weather.

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